The world of folk art is expansive. It encompasses a wide range of styles and mediums including tribal, primitive, outsider, naïve, traditional and more. But no matter what form folk art takes it is almost exclusively expressed by untrained and unprofessional artists. Often set apart from “fine art”, folk art is not typically intended to be sold and nearly always self-taught or learned in a small community setting. The spirit of folk art is not influenced by art movements in academic circles but instead thrives on a basic need to create and reflect the personal lives of the artists.
Arguably one of the most beautiful and obsessive forms of folk art is known as Tramp Art. Tramp Art is a style found throughout the world in which small pieces of wood, primarily from discarded cigar boxes and shipping crates, were whittled into layers of geometric shapes having the outside edges of each layer carved into notches.
A slightly more complex puzzle-like version called “Crown of Thorns” is made from interlocked pieces and involves a bit more engineering.
As is true in many kinds of folk art, tramp artists would use only basic tools, often a single pocket knife, to carve and construct their work. Most commonly used to create boxes and frames, Tramp Art hit the height of its popularity in the United States between the 1870’s and the 1940’s. In its most elaborate forms, tramp artists would create abstract shapes, objects of whimsy and even full sized furniture.
Tramp Art is truly a testament to genuine creativity and cunning. We cherish objects that are born from a person’s innate desire to build even when materials and money are scarce. We hope you enjoy the photos below, taken from both our shop and from the wonderful personal collections of Mandy Lyne and Van Harrison. Also be sure to click the link at the bottom of this post to watch a great video of Tramp Art expert Clifford Wallach, found on the Martha Stewart website.
Click the photo below to watch a video with more information on Tramp Art!
Until Next Time,